Toll Hits 23 in W. Va Flooding

Survivors describe terror, chaos
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 25, 2016 8:24 AM CDT
Toll Hits 23 in W. Va Flooding
Jay Bennett, left, and step-son Easton Phillips survey the damage to a neighbor's car in front of their home damaged by floodwaters as the cleanup begins from severe flooding in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.,    (Steve Helber)

All Karol Dunford has left is a dirty nightgown, caked in mud from the floodwaters that ravaged her West Virginia town and killed at least 23. She lost the trailer where she lived for 30 years. As the deluge swamped southeast West Virginia on Thursday evening, Dunford, a 71-year-old Air Force veteran of the Vietnam war, sat immobile in her wheelchair in her living room as the pitch-black floodwater rose past her ankles, to her knees, up to the armrests. Hundreds of others were stranded, too. Teams across the state rescued people from second-story windows, the hoods of cars, the tops of trees. They saved Dunford from her flooded trailer in the middle of the night, just as the water started licking her shoulders .

More than 100 homes were destroyed, some torn from their foundations and carried away. Families were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Dunford's tiny town of Rainelle in Greenbrier County took the brunt of the devastation. County Sheriff Jan Cahill described "complete chaos." At least 15 people were killed in the county and officials fear more will be discovered as they start sorting through the rubble the storm left behind. "This was so violent," Wayne Pennington, the fire chief in Lewisburg, the seat of Greenbrier County, tells the AP. "It removed structures. It swept cars away. It destroyed trees, guard rails. It churned up the earth. It exposed water lines and broke them. It was just mass destruction on a scale I've never seen." (More West Virginia stories.)

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